Making a plant-based challah doesn’t require any special ingredients. In fact, you can replace the eggs that typically go in challah with a simple combination of oil, water, and baking powder. The key to a glossy finish is to brush the challah with a maple syrup and plant-milk based wash before you bake the bread, and immediately after it comes out of the oven. The maple syrup adds just a hint of sweetness, and the turmeric makes the bread a bright golden hue.
For the dough:
4 cups (550 g) bread flour
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 ½ tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1 Tbsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- egg replacer mixture (see below)
For the egg replacement:
- ¼ cup warm water
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
For the vegan egg wash:
- ¼ cup unsweetened plant-based milk (oat, almond, or soy)
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Start by adding the yeast and sugar to warm water; the water should be around 105-115°F. Stir, and then allow the yeast to activate for 5 minutes or until it looks thick and foamy at the top.
- In a large bowl or in the bottom of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, combine the oil, maple syrup and salt.
- In a separate small bowl, make the egg replacer mixture by combining the water, oil, and baking powder. The baking powder will cause the mixture to fizz.
- Once the yeast is activated, add the liquid to the bowl or stand mixer. Add the egg replacer to the mixture. Then add the flour and turmeric to the stand mixer or to the large bowl. Either by hand or with the stand mixer on low, begin to combine everything together. Once the mixture forms a ball, knead the dough by hand on a clean surface, or by increasing the speed of the mixer to medium.
- Knead until the dough is mostly smooth and elastic, and doesn’t stick to your hands, about 6-8 minutes. If you find the dough is too sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time until the dough doesn’t excessively stick to your hands as you knead. The amount of flour that is needed can often depend on the weather, temperature, and brand of flour.
- Lightly grease a large bowl with oil, and then place the dough in the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp clean kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise in a warm (not drafty) part of the kitchen for at least 90 minutes – 2 hours, or until the dough doubled in size. The rate at which the dough rises will depend on the temperature of the kitchen.
- After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Divide the dough into evenish-sized pieces, depending on how many strands you will braid the dough with. Form each piece of challah into a strand with tapered ends.
- Braid the challah. Place the challah on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a very lightly damp towel. Repeat the braiding process for the second half of the dough. Allow the covered braided loaves to rise for another 60-90 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a small dish, combine almond milk, maple syrup, and oil. Brush the challah with the wash. Bake the challah loaves for 30-40 minutes, or until the challah is a deep golden brown – exact timing will depend on the size of your challah and your oven. Once baked and still hot, brush a second time with the wash mixture. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes + 3 hours rise time
- Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
- Category: Side dish
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Holidays